Home Economy Left parties divided on rail budget, BJP guarded

Left parties divided on rail budget, BJP guarded


New Delhi : The Left parties were divided in their reaction to the railway budget unveiled by their bete noire Mamata Banerjee here Friday, with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) welcoming parts of it and the Communist Party of India (CPI) slamming it. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called the budget impractical.

The ruling Congress party, as expected, said the budget catered to all sections of the society and has stressed on the common man.

Reacting to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s budget proposals, CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat said: “The track of privatisation has not changed. (But) some positive measures in the budget for unorganised sector workers and women are welcome.”

CPI was not impressed. Its senior leader Gurudas Dasgupta called the rail budget “over ambitious” and “unrealistic”.

The initial reaction from the BJP was guarded. Party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS: “She has tried to please everyone, but we have to see how much of it is implemented. The budget looks impractical.”

Welcoming the budget, national spokesperson of the Congress party Shakeel Ahmad said it had “kept the needs of different sections of society in mind, particularly the poor, women, youth and students”.

BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu was all praise for the budget.

“This is the best budget. I appreciate it. Mamata is a grass-rooter. She has also given the status of state-of-the-art railway station to Amritsar,” the former India cricketer told reporters.

Banerjee presented her ministry’s budget Friday for the current fiscal with the promise of addressing the concerns of average passengers.

“People all over the country have high expectations from the railway budget,” Banerjee told the Lok Sabha.

She started with a question if Indian Railways, which runs the world’s second largest railroad network under single management, should function purely on the basis of economic viability or address social commitments.

“Time has come when our economic and social philosophers have to change their old mindset of economic viability and replace it with social viability and upliftment,” she said.

Banerjee said her focus would be on better passenger amenities, good food at affordable prices, clean toilets at stations and trains.

This is her first rail budget for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the third in her political career.